Thursday, December 5, 2019

Review: Katherine Tudor Duchess by Tony Riches

Katherine Tudor Duchess (Brandon Trilogy, Book #3)
by Tony Riches
Release Date: September 25th 2019
2019 Preseli Press
Kindle Edition; 328 Pages
ISBN: 978-1695663855
Genre: Fiction / Historical
Source: Review copy from HF Virtual Book Tours

4 / 5 Stars

Attractive, wealthy and influential, Katherine Willoughby is one of the most unusual ladies of the Tudor court. A favourite of King Henry VIII, Katherine knows all his six wives, his daughters Mary and Elizabeth and his son Edward.

When her father dies, Katherine becomes the ward of Tudor knight, Sir Charles Brandon. Her Spanish mother, Maria de Salinas, is Queen Catherine of Aragon’s lady in waiting, so it is a challenging time for them all when King Henry marries the enigmatic Anne Boleyn.

Following Anne’s dramatic downfall, Katherine marries Charles Brandon, and becomes Duchess of Suffolk at the age of fourteen. After the short reign of young Catherine Howard, and the tragic death of Jane Seymour, Katherine and Brandon are chosen to welcome Anna of Cleves as she arrives in England.

When the royal marriage is annulled, Katherine’s good friend, Catherine Parr becomes the king’s sixth wife, and they work to promote religious reform. Katherine’s young sons are tutored with the future king, Prince Edward, and become his friends, but when Edward dies his Catholic sister Mary is crowned queen. Katherine’s Protestant faith puts her family in great danger - from which there seems no escape.

Katherine’s remarkable true story continues the epic tale of the rise of the Tudors, which began with the best-selling Tudor trilogy and concludes with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

My Thoughts
Katherine Tudor Duchess is the third book in the Brandon Trilogy and although I have not yet had the chance to read the previous books in this series, my enjoyment of this book did not depend on that fact.  I'm not sure if it helps having a history background and already knowing her story, but I really think someone with little knowledge of this time period would not have a problem understanding this book and the various characters in it.  To be honest, I don't think someone with little understanding of this time period would truly understand the huge political ramifications of some of the things that happened during this time period as the author sort of glossed over a lot of the important events to focus on the main character, something which I rather liked as the book was about Katherine, after all. However, this may require some people to Google some of the events as the author kind of assumes you know what he is talking about.

Katherine Willoughby is one of those women whose story I've wanted to read for a very long time. She has played such a secondary role in so many books and I have waited for someone to tackle her story as it seemed so interesting.  And I enjoyed the book quite a bit.  The story however, did span a long period of time and I did have a bit of an issue with the formatting.  What I mean by this is you would be in the middle of a wonderful scene, then suddenly it would end and then you would be thrust into the next scene.  I often felt like the scenes weren't quite completed which definitely affected my empathy for Katherine.  And by that, I mean I did not really connect with her at all.  So when tragedy struck her family, which it often did, I just read about it without really feeling anything. And this is definitely attributable to editing.  Unfortunately, this took what could have been a fantastic book down to a good book.  Perhaps trying to limit the amount of pages was not necessarily a good thing. Is this just a problem with the Kindle edition? Not sure.

The author definitely did a huge amount of research for this book and it shows in the descriptive scenes and in the dialogue between the characters and in their interactions.  Katherine's life is set during the very dangerous and turbulent times of King Henry VIII and it was definitely interesting to watch her grow and learn to navigate the treacherous waters surrounding the royal court and the political machinations occurring there.  I particularly liked how the author portrayed her growing awareness of the need for reform in the Church and how she set about doing so, keeping her head on her shoulders at the same time. I still shiver whenever I read Anne Askew's story and what happened to her; Katherine knew her personally and the author implied Anne went to her death keeping Katherine's involvement in her reforms a secret.  I personally think the author underestimated the power of this woman and what she accomplished.  She pretty much knew every political figure surrounding King Henry VIII, yet managed to survive as well as keep her lands and her political influence.  I would think she was one feisty lady and although it sometimes came across in the book, I think the author downplayed her temper and her resiliency.  I mean, anyone who would deliberately name their dog Gardiner, after Bishop Gardiner, after being quite vocal about how much she disliked the man had to be quite gutsy in that political climate.

Katherine Tudor Duchess was an enjoyable book and I really liked reading about how she found her place in society and perhaps had a huge influence on the way people thought about religion during this time period.  Personally, I am amazed that Katherine survived King Henry VIII's reign as she was certainly outspoken about certain things that could have landed her in a heap of trouble.  Perhaps being married to Charles Brandon protected her from some of it, but maybe the King had a soft spot for her?  Who knows? Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in reading more about this time period and one remarkable lady.  I will definitely be picking up the first two books in this series as well.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Review: The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis

The Vanished Bride (Bronte Sisters Mystery, Book #1)
by Bella Ellis
Release Date: September 10th 2019
2019 Berkley Books
Kindle Edition; 293 Pages
ISBN: 978-0593099056
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Historical
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

Yorkshire, 1845. A young wife and mother has gone missing from her home, leaving behind two small children and a large pool of blood. Just a few miles away, a humble parson's daughters--the Brontë sisters--learn of the crime. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë are horrified and intrigued by the mysterious disappearance.

These three creative, energetic, and resourceful women quickly realize that they have all the skills required to make for excellent "lady detectors." Not yet published novelists, they have well-honed imaginations and are expert readers. And, as Charlotte remarks, "detecting is reading between the lines--it's seeing what is not there."

As they investigate, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne are confronted with a society that believes a woman's place is in the home, not scouring the countryside looking for clues. But nothing will stop the sisters from discovering what happened to the vanished bride, even as they find their own lives are in great peril...

My Thoughts
The Vanished Bride is the first book in a new series featuring the Bronte sisters and I was thrilled to receive an ARC of this book.  I have been a huge fan of the sister when I first discovered them years ago during my Gothic literature phase having devoured Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre.  This story actually takes place before any of the sisters became famous and had actually written their famous works and due to circumstances beyond their control, has them all at home again. The author has taken actual facts from their lives and woven them into an interesting tale of intrigue and deception.

First of all, we meet the sisters who are all at home again struggling to find their purpose in life, unmarried, independent women who were striving to achieve something more than simply getting married and raising a family and living by the dictates of a man.  Being intelligent, with strong opinions, and a desire to learn and seek out adventures, the sisters quickly became interested in an intriguing local case involving a close friend as they learn the friend's mistress has simply vanished in the night leaving behind a lot of blood.  The sisters declare themselves 'detectors', something of which they recently read, and seek to solve the case.  What really intrigued me about the story was the way the women were treated by those around them and how they accomplished their 'detecting' which was often by being sneaky and bold.  Being unaccustomed to lying, they quickly realized they had to withhold the truth from their father and others in order to pursue their investigations, something with which they struggled.  I thought the author did a fantastic job showing a woman's limitations through the sisters' actions and how they interacted with others.  As women, finding ways to be sneaky in order to get one's way, seemed to be quite common.  Being independent, having to present oneself as meek and mild to men simply to get on in the world would have been frustrating for someone who was strong-willed, like the sisters.

The plot itself was quite interesting, with many more twists and turns than I expected, some of which I did not figure out.  The way the author wrote at the beginning, I thought it would be easy to figure out, but I was very, very wrong which totally intrigued me.  When you read a lot of mystery novels, it's easy to pick up on the red herrings after a while so I love it when I get 'caught', so to speak.  Turns out the mystery was more complex than I originally thought and enjoyed every minute of the explorations and investigations.  The meticulous research that went into the plot and the book is quite evident and how much the author cares about her subjects is quite evident.  I also thought the author did a great job showing how Emily and Charlotte may have gotten their inspiration for their books which was quite interesting.  

The Vanished Bride had a very subtle layer to it that was intriguing, a layer that explored women's rights and independence, or lack thereof, through the sisters investigations and explorations.  While the 'detecting' may have seemed light, the theme behind it was definitely not light at all and worthy of further exploration.  It was fun getting to know the sisters and their lives and I thought fact and fiction worked very well together in this book.  I am definitely looking forward to further 'detecting' adventures by this trio.  
Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Review: This Son of York by Anne Easter Smith

This Son of York
by Anne Easter Smith
Release Date: November 10th 2019
2019 Bellastoria Press
Kindle Edition; 504 Pages
ISBN: 978-1942209638
ASIN: B07YD63877
Genre: Fiction / Historical
Source: Review copy from HF Virtual Book Tours

5 / 5 Stars

Richard III. A man. A king. A legend.

He ruled England for only two years, but the legacy of Richard III remains both fascinating and divisive.

From his childhood in the intensely loyal and close-knit York family to his rise as a thoughtful but troubled ruler, This Son of York is a passionate and deeply personal account of the life of Richard III. A man who loved his family and his country. A king who struggled to overcome the challenges not only of a turbulent time but his own human frailties. A legend whose true life is only now coming to light.

Inspired by the discovery of Richard III's grave and its revelations, award-winning author Anne Easter Smith brings together her decades of intense research, five celebrated novels on the Wars of the Roses, and her sustained passion for Richard III in this culminating book on the last Plantagenet king. 

My Thoughts
This Son of York was a fabulous entry in Anne Easter Smith's War of the Roses series and follows the trials and tribulations of Richard III from his childhood to his death after serving only two years on the throne.  I have admired this author for many years after having discovered her book, A Rose for the Crown, and was looking forward to the day when she would tackle Richard's story, especially after his bones were discovered in 2012.  And here it is!!

Anne Easter Smith's latest historical story is quite brilliant.  It takes a close look at the tumultuous life of the last king to die in battle which effectively ended the War of the Roses as well as the Plantagenet dynasty.  I am quite familiar with Richard's life and I was amazed at the meticulous research that went into this book as the descriptions of the people, the events, and the scenes were amazingly done.  The author made Richard seem human which is not easy to do and I appreciated that.  Richard was a controversial figure, with quite a legacy despite his short stint on the throne, and despite the author's own historical twists on some of the narrative, managed to fit all the historical facts with fiction quite seamlessly.  

I have been fascinated with Richard for quite a long time and I was never sure if I quite believed that he was capable of murdering two young boys for the sake of the throne.  However, things were quite different during this time period and many people were quite ruthless and I don't think Richard could have survived the way he did without being ruthless himself.  It was simply too dangerous to allow enemies their freedom and allow them the chance to gain support elsewhere.  Smith has made Richard quite a sympathetic fellow and through her eyes I saw events in a much different way which had made me wonder, yet again, if he could be capable of such an act.  It would be nice to think it was done to discredit Richard, but who knows.  I did like the approach the author decided to take in this novel though.  And I have to say, even though I knew the outcome of certain events, I still read with bated breath, flipping quickly through the pages, hoping for a different outcome, knowing in my heart that events could not change because it was history, but still hoping nonetheless because I liked Richard.

Richard is portrayed as loyal and loving to his family and friends, but also as someone who made terrible mistakes which came to haunt him later.  However, Richard is also portrayed as a complicated, complex man, raised during difficult and turbulent times, having watching his father and brother die needlessly, growing up in a court where intrigues and backstabbing abounded.  I would think in such circumstances, one would grow up quickly and learn how to manipulate as well as protect oneself from being a victim.  Richard would have learned essential skills that he would have needed on the throne in order to keep it.  And I have a lot of admiration for what he actually accomplished during those short two years.  He changed so many laws in Parliament, some of which still exist today, and tried to protect the common people from being used and abused.  I wonder what he would have been able to accomplish had he lived; he definitely had the makings of being a great king.  

This Son of York was a treat to read and I was so happy to return to the world of the Nevilles, Plantagenets, Yorks, and so on.  I have been fascinated for years with the War of the Roses and this book is a welcome addition to my library.  It was certainly a violent time in English history, with loyalties constantly changing and people never knowing what would happen, but Anne Easter Smith brings it all alive through her words and her descriptions and I have to thank her for that.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in history and this time period.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

About the Author

Anne is the award-winning author of The King's Grace and the best-selling A Rose for the Crown, Daughter of York, Queen By Right, and Royal Mistress. She is an expert on Richard III, having studied the king and his times for decades. Her sixth book, This Son of York, will be published soon. She grew up in England, Germany and Egypt, and has been a resident/citizen of the US since 1968. Anne was the Features Editor at a daily newspaper in northern New York State for ten years, and her writing has been published in several national magazines.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Review: A Better Man by Louise Penny

A Better Man (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, Book #15)
by Louise Penny
Release Date: August 27th 2019
2019 Minotaur Books
Kindle Edition; 437 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250230881
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

It's Gamache's first day back as head of the homicide department, a job he temporarily shares with his previous second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir. Flood waters are rising across the province. In the middle of the turmoil a father approaches Gamache, pleading for help in finding his daughter.

As crisis piles upon crisis, Gamache tries to hold off the encroaching chaos, and realizes the search for Vivienne Godin should be abandoned. But with a daughter of his own, he finds himself developing a profound, and perhaps unwise, empathy for her distraught father.

Increasingly hounded by the question, how would you feel..., he resumes the search.

As the rivers rise, and the social media onslaught against Gamache becomes crueler, a body is discovered. And in the tumult, mistakes are made.

My Thoughts
A Better Man is the fifteenth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, and I felt a bit let down in this book.  I am a huge fan of this series and have appreciated the tension and suspense in the earlier books, such that I have stayed up late reading them to find out what happened.  That tension was lacking in this entry however, which made the book seem a bit lackluster to me as it didn't have that edge these books tend to have.

First of all, I am a huge fan of Armand and am in awe as to how he can pull off the near impossible. He is one of those people who always gives someone else a chance despite having done something to him as he easily forgives, but he never forgets.  Having risen to chief of Surete, he has a lot of experience in the field which is why I had a hard time believing that someone of his caliber could make some of the mistakes he made in this book. Furthermore, some of the careless behaviour by others would never have been tolerated by Gamache so I couldn't understand why he would tolerate some of the stuff in this book.  His personality just, and I didn't like it, not one bit.  And you couldn't blame the issue with his son-in-law, Beauvoir, for it either.  For the record, I wasn't crazy about Jean-Guy in this one either and the two of them have created fireworks in previous books together.  

While I found the plot moderately interesting, it definitely didn't have that explosiveness that one is used to in a Louise Penny book.  There really wasn't a lot to like about the various characters and that is saying a lot as I have enjoyed previous characters in all the books, even the bad guys.  The author usually has this nice touch she is able to put on character development that makes you feel sympathy for even the bad guys, but that didn't come across in this book.  What's more, the mystery didn't really get fully investigated until almost two-thirds into the book, at least in a full investigation, and I wasn't crazy about the moral lessons that abounded everywhere.  Let people make their own minds up about what they read rather than trying to get a reader to agree with everything an author wants as it doesn't sit very well. I do have to say that the author's writing skill are still up to par and she is a whiz at descriptive scenes, but those broken up sentences did grate on my nerves after a while. As well, when is Armand finally going to fight back for what was taken from him? Where did his fighting spirit go?  I want the fiery Armand back.

A Better Man is one of the weaker entries in this series, at least in my mind.  I just couldn't wrap my head around the mystery and why everyone seemed to take it so personally.  Don't get me wrong, what happened to Vivienne was absolutely terrible, but these are seasoned policemen and Armand was Chief of police and has seen things that are far worse (one of which was brought back in this book).. So, it just seemed out of character and didn't make sense, especially if you have read all the previous books in this series. If I had not read any other books in this series, I probably would not have noticed anything wrong, but having been a fan since the beginning, it was noticeable, even the writing.   While I can't bring myself to part ways with Armand as of yet, I was disappointed in this one and sincerely hope the next one is more explosive and interesting.  If you have not yet read any books in this series, start at the beginning as you are in for a treat.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Review: Dachshund Through the Snow by David Rosenfelt

Dachshund Through the Snow (Andy Carpenter, Book #20)
by David Rosenfelt
Release Date: October 1st 2019
2019 Minotaur Books
Kindle Edition; 352 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250237682
Genre: Fictiion / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

Lawyer Andy Carpenter and his wife, Laurie, have started a new Christmas tradition. Their local pet store has a Christmas tree, where instead of ornaments there are wishes from those in need. One poignant wish leads Andy to a child named Danny, whose selfless plea strikes a chord. Danny asked Santa for a coat for his mother, a sweater for his dachshund, Murphy, and for the safe return of his missing father.

It turns out Danny’s father doesn't want to be found, he’s on the run after just being arrested for a murder that took place fourteen years ago – a murder that Danny’s mother swears he didn’t commit.

With his trademark humor and larger-than-life characters – including a police officer and his K-9 partner, Simon – Rosenfelt never fails to deliver as Andy and his eccentric crew dash to reunite a family in time for Christmas.

My Thoughts
Dachshund Through the Snow is the first Andy Carpenter book I have read and I enjoyed it quite a lot.  What I really liked was Andy's witty, sarcastic, deprecating sense of humour often coming through his thoughts about other people and events and his observations of what was happening around him.  There were a couple of times I actually laughed out loud at some of his irreverent thoughts which always makes my husband look at me oddly.

I really enjoyed Andy as a main character and I definitely think I was drawn to his sarcastic outlook on things the most.  He has this way of looking at events and people around him that makes him suspect everyone that I think comes from his years as a defense criminal lawyer.  I have not read the previous books in this series, but I get from this story that Andy is rather good at his job and has put a lot of people away so I get why he looks at the world this way.  And the way the author writes his observations is rather humorous.  You can't help but like the guy.  His wife, Laurie, is a perfect complement to Andy as she is more serious being a police officer but I feel that Andy puts on this big act.  You definitely can't be a successful criminal defense lawyer by being a complete wimp, that's for sure.  The supporting characters were as much fun as Andy and company.  I particularly enjoyed the little byplay with a police officer and his sidekick, Simon, and the court case to decide Simon's fate. Rather interesting! Species discrimination!

I was drawn to this book as I thought it was a Christmas story but that, I am afraid, it is not.  That did not take away from the story however, and I thought the plot was well-written and enjoyable.  There were plenty of twists and turns and I definitely was not expecting a court case so that was rather nice to see.  This book is not a cozy mystery but it has the feel of one.   However, I get the feeling, through comments and through people Andy meets and deals with, that many of the cases with which he dealt in the past were complicated, difficult, and dangerous so it has made me curious enough to go and pick up a couple of them and yes, they involve drug trafficking, gang-related stuff, tech thefts, and other such fun stuff.  So, definitely not cozy. I did figure out who the murderer was, but the author was definitely tricky and it was fun to try and manoeuver the various twists and red herrings written into the book.

Dachshund Through the Snow was a fun and delightful book to read and I am so glad I have discovered a new series in which to sink my teeth.  Luckily, the author doesn't give away previous books in this one so I am already through the first book and can't wait to read the others.  I really enjoyed Andy and the other characters and thought the plot twists and turns were fun and interesting. I am really looking forward to the next entry in this series and can't wait to read the other books in this series. Oh, and I am a great speller but I have since learned that I would fail a spelling bee if I had to spell 'dachshund' in it. That word is my Waterloo to spell, for whatever reason.
Saturday, October 26, 2019

Review: Shadow School: Archimancy by J.A. White

Archimancy (Shadow School, Book #1)
by J.A. White
Release Date: August 27th 2019
2019 Katherine Tegen Books
Kindle Edition; 304 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062838315
Genre: Fiction / Supernatural / Juvenile
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

Cordelia Liu knew Shadow School was going to be different. Black gates and ivied walls. Long hallways lined with old paintings. A tower with a window that looks like an eye. Different she expected; different she could handle. Still, Cordelia can’t shake the feeling that something’s not right—and that she’s being carefully watched.

The answer isn’t just in front of her eyes—it’s in her gym, next to the bulletin board, even in the cafeteria. The school grounds are filled with ghosts. Cordelia soon realizes she’s not the only one who can see them; her new friend Benji can too. Together with supersmart Agnes, the trio are determined to find out why the ghosts are there, and whether there’s a way to set them free. But the school was created with more sinister intentions, and someone is willing to go to extreme lengths to ensure that the ghosts remain trapped forever.

My Thoughts 
Shadow School: Archimancy was a solid, middle-school ghost story that I found quite enjoyable. Now, if you are going into this book expecting a great puzzle and complicated plot, that you will not find, but if you are looking for a solid ghost story, this has that in abundance.  This has a simple plot, easy outs for everyone, uncomplicated characters, and a lot of action.  Perfect for those just looking for a fun, but light read.

First of all, I really wasn't too impressed with Cordelia at the start of the story as I found her a bit whiny and annoying.  I understand that she had to move away from California and leave her friends and she is only 11 years old, but she was annoying.  She did however, grow on me as the story developed.  I did like her friends however, but I did feel like there was too much emphasis on the kids' descriptions and their ethnic differences as if the author was trying to point out the inclusiveness of the characters.  Inclusiveness is good, info-dump however, is bad.  Besides, kids are pretty smart and can figure things out on their own, you know?

I actually thought the same thing about the plot.  Although it was enjoyable, there was little in the way of cryptic clues and puzzles that allowed a reader to try and figure things out.  Again, middle grade readers have the ability to read between the lines and figure things out on their own, everything does not have to be fed to them and it does feel a bit condescending when this is done.  The whole concept of the book had this amazingly rich background and setting that would have been a perfect setup for a variety of clues and puzzles for kids (and for adults) to work through but I felt this was not maximized at all.  I personally like to discover things and work through things and as a kid, one of the best things was figuring out the puzzles as I read.  So I felt kind of cheated, even as an adult.  Gosh, haunted house that is a school?  What more could someone ask for?  Best line in the book:

""Plus there's an honest-to-goodness secret passageway in my school," she thought.  And there's no reality where that's not super cool."

Isn't that a great line?  As a kid I would have loved to find a secret passageway.  Giving kids the opportunity to explore, puzzle things out, and solve clues is awesome and I have high hopes the author will include some of that in the next book.  

Shadow School: Archimancy definitely has a lot of potential and I had high hopes going into the book.  While it was an interesting read and the characters definitely grew on me, I was disappointed in the plot in that it was way too linear which drastically lowered the suspense in my eyes.  Too many outs for the kids kind of takes away from the suspense.  I really do feel that there is a lot of potential in this series and I am looking forward to some more adventures by these kids with a lot more twists and turns in their stories for me to try to figure out.  Hopefully!

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Review: The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup

The Chestnut Man
by Soren Sveistrup
Release Date: September 3rd 2019
2019 Harper
Kindle Edition: 528 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062895363
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Suspense
Source: Review copy from publisher

4.5 / 5 Stars

A psychopath is terrorizing Copenhagen.

His calling card is a “chestnut man”—a handmade doll made of matchsticks and two chestnuts—which he leaves at each bloody crime scene.

Examining the dolls, forensics makes a shocking discovery—a fingerprint belonging to a young girl, a government minister’s daughter who had been kidnapped and murdered a year ago.

A tragic coincidence—or something more twisted?

To save innocent lives, a pair of detectives must put aside their differences to piece together the Chestnut Man’s gruesome clues.

Because it’s clear that the madman is on a mission that is far from over.

And no one is safe.

My Thoughts
The Chestnut Man is one of those books I wanted to read simply because I thought the title was interesting and I wanted to know what it was all about.  Plus, I knew this author was the scriptwriter for a television series I really liked, The Killing, so I was intrigued. And I was not disappointed.  With interesting characters and a fascinating plot, I was pretty much hooked from the start.

Chestnuts always make me think of holidays and skating parties and good times, but there was none of that in this book with regards to chestnut men.  Unfortunately, the little chestnut men were a killer's calling card for some pretty gruesome murders whereby the killer tended to focus on mothers who either abused their children or knew their children were being abused and did little to stop that abuse.  I am really grateful that the descriptions in this book only went so far as the ones that were given were enough to make me squirm and feel incredible sympathy for the women involved.  I know they have optioned this book for a tv series, but there are some scenes I think I may have to close my eyes if they actually film them.  I liked the themes that ran through this book as they were pretty powerful ones dealing with abuse, neglect, consequences, and vengeance.  The book also highlighted a system that is definitely overburdened and needs help. 

I really enjoyed the setting (Denmark) and thought the characters were a lot of fun.  I think I would liken this book as both a police procedural and psychological thriller in one.  The plot is actually quite complex, interweaving both the personal and professional lives of the detectives, Thulin and Hess, as they attempt to solve a very political case.  There are many twists and turns and I thought the author did a great job at leaving those red-herrings that leads a reader in different directions which makes it a lot more difficult to figure out the murderer.  I enjoyed both of the detectives, if for very different reasons, and liked how complex both of their characters were.  I didn't figure out who the killer was although I did have the right idea.  This actually made me happy as I like it when I get stumped by an author.  Plus, it makes me want to read more books by them.  I think if I had any complaints about the book, it would be the interactions between Thulin and Hess as I'm not really sure how and when she began to trust him, but it seemed kind of forced to me.  Don't get me wrong, I love their partnership, but a few more sparks would have been nice.  What was there was really good and I really enjoyed the way they fed off each other.  Besides, they both have secrets that have not been ferreted out as of yet and I am curious.  

The Chestnut Man was a gritty mystery novel that moved very quickly and had a lot going for it.  With many twists and turns, and many revelations, the plot moved rather quickly and I enjoyed it tremendously.  The characters were interesting and I am looking forward to learning more about Hess and Thulin in future installments.  There are some instances of graphic violence however, so this many not be everyone's cup of tea.  I do recommend this book to anyone who likes dark police procedurals with interesting characters and a great plot. 
Thursday, October 17, 2019

Review: Read and Buried by Eva Gates

Read and Buried (Lighthouse Library Mystery, Book #6)
by Eva Gates
Release Date: October 15th 2019
2019 Crooked Lane Books
Kindle Edition: 325 Pages
ISBN: 9781643852331
Genre: Fiction / Cozy Mystery
Source: Review copy from Great Escapes Book Tours

4/5 Stars

Librarian Lucy Richardson unearths a mysterious map dating back to the Civil War. But if she can't crack its code, she may end up read and buried.

The Bodie Island Lighthouse Library Classic Novel Book Club is reading Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne while workers dig into the earth to repair the Lighthouse Library's foundations. The digging halts when Lucy pulls a battered tin box containing a Civil War-era diary from the pit. Tucked inside is a hand-drawn map of the Outer Banks accompanied by a page written in an indecipherable code.

The library is overrun by people clamoring to see the artifact. Later that night, Lucy and Connor McNeil find the body of historical society member Jeremy Hughes inside the library. Clearly Jeremy was not the only one who broke into the library--the map and the coded page are missing.

My Thoughts
Read and Buried is the sixth entry in the Lighthouse Library Mystery series and I really enjoyed returning to Lucy Richardson's world as she uncovered another mystery yet again.  I really think the setting is part of the appeal for me with this series as a library situated in a lighthouse whose main character lives on the fourth floor of said lighthouse sends shivers down my back as to the possibilities of murder, secrets, and mayhem that can ensue in such a setting.

I really enjoy Lucy as a main character as she is curious without being reckless and if she just happens to discover information that is relevant to whatever murder is currently being solves, just happens to be coincidence if she decides to investigate a little further than she should.  What I do like however, is her healthy respect for the law and how she divulges everything to the police when she does discover something she thinks is useful.  I also like how the police treat her with respect while, at the same time, keep her at a distance while they are investigating.  A few snide remarks from the police chief had me laughing out loud wishing I could picture Lucy's face during those moments having she was put back in her place and her role as librarian and not detective. I also really like the secondary characters and their interactions in such a small town, especially with how they treat 'outsiders' and the small jokes and history they share.  And I really liked Louise Jane in this one, especially her actions towards the end.  Interesting times! I can definitely see her playing a larger role in future books.

The plot was interesting and definitely piqued my curiosity right away.  Gosh, as a kid I lived for books about treasure maps and codes and this one seemed to have both plus a mystery.  Although it was quite easy to figure out how it would all play out in the end, it was definitely entertaining to read as the characters all fell over themselves trying to solve the clues and discover who did the deed.  I have to say, this series continues to entertain and impress me.  The author's writing style has a way of drawing you in and although I had figured out the ending, I did read with bated breath as the characters searched for a missing treasure.  What fun!

Read and Buried is another fun entry into a really great series.  While it can be read as a stand alone, I do recommend you start from the beginning just to get a feel for the characters and the setting.  Some of the animosity might be more apparent if you have read the previous entries as well.  With quirky characters and a lovely setting, I highly recommend this book.  In fact, I want to move there and live in that lighthouse.  What a perfect setting!!

Author Information

  Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers and a national bestseller in the U.S. She has written more than thirty books:  clever cozies to Gothic thrillers to gritty police procedurals, to historical fiction and novellas for adult literacy. She is currently writing four cozy mystery series: the Tea By The Sea mysteries for Kensington, the Year Round Christmas mysteries for Penguin Random House, the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series and, as Eva Gates, the Lighthouse Library books for Crooked Lane.

Vicki is a past president of the Crime Writers of Canada and co-founder and organizer of the Women Killing It crime writing festival. She lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario.

Author Links